As English is the official language of the USA, you might think that there isn’t a lot of TEFL work to be had there. However, the USA has a large population of people who speak English as a second language rather than their mother tongue, and there are plenty of people who don’t speak any English at all – some of whom are refugees. As such, there definitely is a market for TEFL teaching in the USA. You can find work across the USA, and elsewhere in North America you can find plenty of TEFL work in Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic.
TEFL jobs in the USA vary greatly, with opportunities for seasoned TEFL teachers as well as those who are newly qualified. Those with years of experience and teaching qualifications beyond a TEFL or CELTA certificate will be able to apply for jobs in primary and secondary schools across America – each state will have its own regulations for hiring teachers from abroad, but there are plenty of programs that invite teachers for 3-5 year sabbaticals which are worth looking into. For other positions, seek out universities with a good language center that caters to ESL students. Private language schools are good place for less experienced teachers too, as well as exchange programs and volunteering. Whatever route you take, make sure that your visa paperwork is all in order and don’t try teaching for money if you aren’t entitled to – the USA is strict on its visas and you could see yourself getting deported.
Teach English Online in the USA
If you choose to teach English online while in the USA, a big benefit is that your students can be from anywhere in the world, so it doesn’t matter that you’re teaching English in an English-speaking country. The downside of teaching online from somewhere like America is that there can be a big time difference between when you’re available and when your students are free, depending on where they are. For example, if you want to log on at 9am and teach from California, students in China will likely be in bed at that time (it’s midnight!). However, if you’re flexible about when you can teach then this won’t a problem. You might have to work unsociable hours in order to be free when the students are, but the USA is a huge place, and you’ll likely find students to teach online whatever time of day you’re free.
Teaching English online is a good chance to gain experience and see if TEFL is for you. Teaching for just a few hours a week (in the evenings after your full-time job) is a great way to get a foot in the door as well as making some extra money. If you’re an experienced teacher, you could choose to teach freelance rather than going through a company that will find your students for you.
Platforms such as Verbling allow you to set your own prices (English teachers charge anything from £4 to £70 per hour), but you’ll also have to provide your own teaching materials. You can also teach English online on a voluntary basis.
Volunteer in the USA
If you volunteer teaching TEFL in the USA, you’re likely to have cosmopolitan classrooms with students from all over the world. While this can be a great conversation point for talking activities, bear in mind the cultural differences between your students and any issues that could cause – some students might be reluctant to speak whereas more lively students can dominate a class, and students from conservative cultures will expect their teachers to dress and act in ways which might be different to students from a more liberal background.
A cross between working and volunteering, there are plenty of opportunities for TEFL teaching in the USA known as stipend volunteering – you don’t get paid a full salary, but are provided with a stipend to cover your costs. This is a great idea if you’d like to volunteer and gain teaching experience but don’t want to spend a lot of money. AmeriCorps is one popular company that offers stipend volunteering for TEFL teachers.
If you want to find out more about volunteering as an English teacher, read our guide to find out more.
TEFL jobs in the USA
The demand for English language lessons in the USA is rising. Most colleges and universities offer an English language program to cater for students who speak English as a second language. There are also some bilingual schools that you can apply to, and you can also teach in primary and secondary state schools. To teach in a state school in the USA, you’ll need a teacher certification. Each state has its own regulations about what qualifications you need, and this website lists what is required for each state. You can also teach TEFL in the USA at private language schools.
Wherever you find work, you’ll need to have the correct visa in place if you’re not a US citizen – the USA is very strict about immigration and so it’s important to have all the paperwork in place. Most full-time teaching roles will sponsor your visa, but it might be trickier if you’re looking for part-time work. Jobs that are paid by the hour don’t typically offer high wages, so make sure you have enough work to cover your costs while you’re in America.
If you only have a TEFL certificate, you’ll find it hard to get full-time paid teaching work in the USA. Even a CELTA often won’t be enough if you don’t have the other required qualifications. Most positions will require you to have teacher certification (known in the UK as QTS – Qualified Teacher Status) and usually at least two years of experience after qualifying. On top of this, you might need to have a degree in education or in your subject of study. For many USA locations, it’s a benefit if you speak another language, particularly Spanish. If you speak another foreign language, check to see which states have a particularly high diaspora of that language as it might make it easier for you to find work in that state.
Alliance Abroad Group offers certified teachers the chance to work on long-term programs (3-5 years) teaching in America. They will sponsor your visa.
Amity looks for qualified, experienced teachers to work in the USA for up to 3-5 years.
Central Michigan University is located in Mt. Pleasant and has a language center.
City Year looks for volunteer teachers to come to Boston.
ELI is the English Language Institute at the University of Alabama.
English in the USA lists language schools by state.
Fullbright Teacher Exchanges runs the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program for International Teachers, where qualified UK teachers can come and work in the USA for up to four months.
Golden Gate Language Schools looks for highly qualified teachers, preferably with a Master’s degree and experience teaching TOEFL.
Greenheart looks for volunteers to participate in its English summer camps in California.
Kaplan International has schools in 7 locations across the USA. All positions with Kaplan are paid at least $15 per hour or $31,200 per year for full-time positions.
Spirit Cultural Exchange looks for qualified teachers for primary/secondary positions. You must have at least two years of experience and a degree in your teaching field.